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Hands On With the Pocketbook Color

Pocketbook’s newest ereader arrived on my doorstep yesterday.  I’ve had a day to play with it, and while I am impressed with its speed and svelte design, I am not sold on its main feature.

The Pocketbook Color features the new Kaleido E-ink screen, and this screen tech is a vast improvement on E-ink’s two previous generations of color screens. Where the previous color E-ink screens were cursed with a very slow refresh rate and a muddy gray undertone, the new Kaleido screens are capable of displaying up to 4096 colors. The new screens have a white undertone, not gray.

Furthermore, the Pocketbook Color can refresh the screen at a speed that matches that of the Kindle or any other leading ereader. It is so fast that I wish I could play a video on it just to see what happens; I think it might actually be able to play video at 30 fps (or at least close to that speed).

I was in fact testing the Pocketbook Color with a gallery of astronomy photos that I have been saving for wallpapers on my smartphone, and I found that this ereader could refresh the screen – in color – at a rate faster than I had believed possible. I’m not going to claim that it’s as fast as an LCD or LED screen, but it’s in same the ballpark.

You will never complain about this ereader’s speed.

Its color quality, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired.

Kaleido screens can display up to 4096 colors, but they are limited to displaying those colors at 100 ppi. On the one hand, that is significantly below the resolution of the Carta E-ink screens (300ppi), but at the same time the Kaleido screens have about the same resolution (when displaying color) as the screen on my 15″ Dell laptop.

The reason I made that comparison is that I am not one to worship stats for their own sake. I care about what screens look like when they are in front of me.

And the screen on the Pocketbook Color, well – I think the best way to describe it would be "old newsprint". It reminds me of the old, cheaply-printed periodicals I might find in an archive.

The 4096 color limitation means that the images are not as vibrant as you would see on an LCD screen. They seem rather washed out, or muted. (The colors are more vibrant than you would expect on a grayscale E-ink screen, however.)


I have to say I am torn. Yes, this is a major breakthrough, and yes, it is faster and better than any color E-ink screen we have seen before, but I am just not that thrilled with the main feature.

Given the Pocketbook Color’s overall quality, however, there is a good chance that I might be in the minority.

This ereader will be shipping soon in Europe. Retail is 199 euros.

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NatCh July 30, 2020 um 4:38 pm

Since I prefer to store and sync my library in Dropbox, can I ask how well Pocketbook handles syncing via that service?

Nate Hoffelder July 30, 2020 um 5:47 pm

I had not tested that yet because this ereader refused to work with my Wifi, but I will give it a second go.

NatCh July 31, 2020 um 1:02 am

If you decide you need a second opinion on it, I could be persuaded to try it on my wifi here. 😉

Nate Hoffelder July 31, 2020 um 9:48 pm

Dropbox support is kinda weird – I can only access the Pocketbook folder from my ereader, and no where else. (I really expected that I would be able to browse my entire Dropbox account, but no.)

But it does work, after a fashion.

NatCh August 1, 2020 um 12:45 pm

So you have to put your books in a Dropbox folder named "Pocketbook" for the thing to see them? That is odd, but livable, has some advantages, I suppose.

Does it sync locally, or are they just accessible when connected to the 'net?

Nate Hoffelder August 1, 2020 um 1:14 pm

if you open an ebook in the Dropbox folder, it is downloaded and stored locally, yes. It does not appear to sync my reading progress.

NatCh August 1, 2020 um 6:39 pm

Hmmm. Okay I follow that, I was just hoping I could do full sync. I prefer to have my full library available when I’m out of connectivity, but I like to use Dropbox to store/manage it. On my Onyx MC3 I’ve been using DropSync to manage it, but the last version of the app is no longer compatible with the ancient Android version the reader sports, so I’m back to wired syncing, which is not happy-making.


Steve H. July 30, 2020 um 4:39 pm

If Kobo or Amazon comes out with an 8 inch or larger color reader with page turn buttons, I will possibly buy.
The white screen is interesting/concerning….I have developed a preference for color temperature control.

Name July 30, 2020 um 5:15 pm

Can you check, which SoC is used? I suppose, the back cover can be removed as easily as with Pocketbook’s other readers. Also, can you confirm there is a user accessible SD card slot? If so, that alone would be an improvement over previous models, where it was removed. One simple reason being, that those readers were rather slow with browsing though one’s files. The easiest way to have quick access to a set of files was to have them grouped on multiple cards. No annoying browsing through folders necessary.

Nate Hoffelder July 30, 2020 um 5:29 pm

I can confirm that it has a microSD card slot, and the specs say that there’s a dual-core CPU inside.

Paul Durrant July 31, 2020 um 4:19 am

Is that blue cast to the screen real, or an artefact of your photos?

Nate Hoffelder July 31, 2020 um 6:21 am

Probably my photos.

Julie July 31, 2020 um 9:20 am

Can the color intensity be adjusted using the light? I believe there is a way to adjust the color.

Nate Hoffelder July 31, 2020 um 9:40 am

I just double checked, and my only option is to turn the frontlight on and off. I do not have any settings that can adjust the color.

Stanislav July 31, 2020 um 1:12 pm

Thank you Nate. I am pleasantly surprised you could get an unit for review so quickly.
Is it a review unit or did you purchase it?
I am happy to hear that this generation of color E-ink is so much better and quicker than previous generations. I personally am happy with a black and white e-ink screens for my fiction reading, but many people are waiting for this.

Nate Hoffelder July 31, 2020 um 3:49 pm

It is a gift from Pocketbook.

mdp August 1, 2020 um 6:11 am

Nate, are you really sure that the use of colour forces 100-ish DPI resolution in Kaleido? The photos collected for e.g. the Hisense phones show differently.

I do not know what the device (Pocketbook) does, I understand from what you write it is a "pure reader" – can you at least, if not web pages, check a vector+raster PDF? Or maybe an EPUB with both black-on-white text and text in colour? If 100DPI text will appear, it will be impossible to miss it.

Nate Hoffelder August 1, 2020 um 8:52 am

That is what all the press info said.

tired August 1, 2020 um 10:59 am

I’m pretty sure that it will also ship in the US through Newegg. It doesn’t look impressive but I might buy it anyway just because I’ve been looking forward to color eink (or any meaningful eink advance honestly) for several years.

Tom S August 3, 2020 um 9:36 pm

I think I could get used to (and appreciate) the ‘washed out color’ — it appears better than I expected. But it would pretty much have to be on a KIndle, as I’m not prepared to abandon the ecosystem in favor of a standalone device.

James August 4, 2020 um 4:32 pm

Does the gallery app have a slideshow function? Can it work as a digital picture frame and rotate?

Nate Hoffelder August 4, 2020 um 5:45 pm

It cannot,sorry.

Hands on with the Pocketbook Color, Part II | The Digital Reader August 5, 2020 um 1:14 pm

[…] post I published last week sparked a number of requests both here and on MobileRead forums concerning the screen tech. The […]

Knowi August 8, 2020 um 1:30 pm

Got a color epaper and did only "test" it indoor…
We all love LCD colors in sunlight, right?
Fake and stupid review!

Nate Hoffelder August 8, 2020 um 1:41 pm

LOL, you’re funny when you’re angry. Stupid, but funny.

Hands On With the Pocketbook Color – user's Blog! August 31, 2020 um 12:10 pm

[…] Pocketbook’s newest ereader arrived on my doorstep yesterday.  I’ve had a day to play with it, and while I am impressed with its speed and svelte design, I am not sold on its main feature. The Pocke… Read More […]

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